The amazing rise of digital archives
Each week I write the DAM Links posts, a short collection of links and news from around the world relevant to digital asset management. It requires me to follow news on marketing technology, information technology, creative trends, and the archival community.
It seems like everyday someone is announcing a new program or grant to complete a digital archive project. Governments, news sources, universities, libraries, and museums are all putting time, money, and person-power towards creating and maintaining digital archives.
Here are a few recent headlines, most of them from the past two weeks.
- Denmark’s largest digital archive opens today, The Copenhangen Post, Denmark
- UC archive most detailed earthquake collection, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
- British Library digitises 4 million endangered archives, Wired UK
- Province moves to digital archive system for official records, The Vancouver Sun, Canada
- NC Digital Heritage Center expands archives with grant, The Daily Tar Heel, NC USA
- FDR museum doubles digital resources, Poughkeepsie Journal, PA USA
- Photo display features state children from early 1900s, Argus Leader, SD USA
- Library, national archives, museums enter digital era, The Nation, Thailand
- Civil War letters: Library digital collection features Civil War letters of David N. Lilley, University of Delaware, MD USA
- Digital archive for 200-year-old fauna, Times of India
- New York Philharmonic archive expands, The New York Times, USA
I started to wonder: Is this mass movement towards digital archives new? Certainly, creating digital archives and records has been around for quite some time, but are archival projects being done on a greater scale? Since I’ve only been doing DAM Links for a couple of weeks, it might be that I’m new to scene and only noticing it for the first time.
I scanned blogs and news to get an answer, and google searches for “rise of digital archives” were pretty desolate. Then an info professional colleague sent me some links to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS is the major funding and outreach organization for museums and libraries in the United States.
In 2014, they were granted a one million dollar boost over the next year. The forecast for 2016 includes a further increased budget and the strategic priority of creating a national digital platform for museums and libraries.
That’s two million dollars over 2 years and the goal of creating a national digital archive.
Those numbers are only from a US funding agency, but given the international diversity in the headline above, the push for secure and accessible digital archives is happening everywhere. UNESCO, for example, is has funded digital archive projects around the world.
With the rise of digital archives, people are openly addressing the challenges of creating digital records of documents and images. Among them is using a digital format that will be readable in hundreds of years. This short interview with Jeff Jones, the Chief Executive of the National Archives in the UK highlights how they address preservation:
An open call to information professionals and archivists: Do you see an increase in digitization of archives? What kinds of special challenges are associated with long-term digital storage? Let me know in the comments.